Fabrics are the physical interpretation of womankinds’ various moods and fancies, and of these the most gorgeous, the most alluring and at the same time the most spiritual is lace. Lace, above all other products of the spinning-wheel, is an expression of beauty. It does not have, nor does it pretend, any other reason for existence beyond making the world a more beautiful place. Lace is the highest creation of skilled hands and bountiful imagination. It is the personification of all efforts of Beauty, and there is no other decoration so universally suitable to emphasize the beauty found in every woman. As long as one chooses the type of lace according to her own type!
Lace can be made by hand or by machine, with needle, bobbins, hook or loom, and many more techniques besides. Under the name of lace are actually grouped dozens of different techniques, which produce hundreds of different types of lace. There is endless scope for research and enjoyment in lace. Some laces resemble carved ivory, other are fairy-like and light as a spider’s net. To begin to learn about lace, I suggest you visit a good museum collection of textiles, which should include several samples of different lace types.
Exquisite handmade lace is naturally superior to machine-made due to its artistic nature, but the later should not be despised. Firstly, good machine-made lace is better than inferior hand-made lace. Secondly, tireless machines weave fine and delicate laces by the mile in the same time as the lace-worker completes a yard. If we did not have these smart inventions and their products at our disposal, most women could not decorate themselves and their homes with lace and thus would be much deprived. The lace machine in its various forms has its origins already several hundred years in history, and many gorgeous fashions would not have been possible without its generous help. Machine laces deserve our respect in what they are, not as imitations of the handmade article.
All lace types have a different character, just as any fabric. Bobbin laces range from the simple and sweet torchon edgings to most complicated and filmy fairy webs of duchesse lace. Needlepoint laces always have a luxurious air, since the process of making them is slow and requires great skill. Needlelaces can be magnificent with curves in high relief (Gros point de Venice), or airy and so delicate that it feels like a miracle that such thing can be produced by human hands (Brussels point de Gaze). These two techniques are also often combined with breathtakingly gorgeous results, as in Point d’Angleterre. Tulle and various forms of embroidered tulle portray femininity in most delicious way. Knitted, tatted and crocheted lace have a cosy, home-like charm, with the exception of finest Irish crochet which can look positively sumptuous. Note that only quite thin threads are suitable for crocheting or knitting lace for apparel, coarse thread lace is only suitable for home furnishings. Knitted, tatted and crocheted lace is suitable for brightening and decorating day and afternoon dresses, but generally not magnificent enough for evening wear. Exceptions may apply, though, since a skillful dress artiste can create gorgeous effects with the humblest laces.